"Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite," goes the familiar phrase. Unfortunately the statistics aren't in your favour, because these apple-pip-sized bugs are everywhere.
Hardly a week goes by without a news story of yet another infestation, and yet they are relatively understudied, saysWarren Booth of the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, US.
Booth and his colleagues have used genetics to unveil the origin of bed bugs. They found that there are two lineages in Europe. They are so diverse, they have almost split into two species.
What's more, their origin lies with bats.
The research, published in the journal Molecular Ecology, provides the first genetic evidence that bats were the ancestral host of the bed bugs that plague human residences today.